Timeline of NBA from its start as the BAA through 1950s
Timeline of the National Basketball Association from its founding as the Basketball Association of America through the 1950s. The timeline includes milestone moments in the league’s history as the NBA celebrates its 75th season:
June 6, 1946: Boston Garden owner Walter Brown, looking for more events at his arena, helps found the Basketball Association of America in New York City.
Nov. 1, 1946: The game now counted as the NBA’s first official game is played at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. The New York Knickerbockers beat the Huskies 68-66.
April 23, 1947: Howie Dallmar and the Philadelphia Warriors beat the Chicago Stags 4-1 to win the first NBA championship in 1947.
Nov. 4, 1948: Future Hall of Fame center George Mikan makes his debut with the Minneapolis Lakers, and he scores 19 points in an 84-72 win over the Baltimore Bullets.
Aug. 3, 1949: The Basketball Association of America agrees to merge with the National Basketball League in a league named the National Basketball Association.
April 13, 1949: The Minneapolis Lakers cap their debut season by beating the Washington Capitols 4-2 for their first championship. It’s the first of 17 titles for the franchise now called the Los Angeles Lakers.
June 25, 1950: The Korean War begins with North Korea trying to unify the peninsula. The United States joins South Korea with China fighting alongside North Korea.
Oct. 31, 1950: Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper and Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton break the color barrier in the NBA as the league’s first Black players. Lloyd is the first to make his debut in the NBA on Oct. 31, 1950 with the Washington Capitols. Cooper is the first Black player drafted by an NBA team as the 13th overall selection and Clifton was the first Black player to sign a contract.
Nov. 1, 1950: Future Hall of Famer and six-time NBA champ Bob Cousy makes his debut for the Boston Celtics after refusing to report to Tri-Cities, which drafted him. He scores 16 points in a 107-84 loss to Fort Wayne.
Nov. 4, 1950: Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton makes his NBA debut as the second Black player in the NBA, scoring 16 points for the New York Knickerbockers in an 87-76 road loss to the Tri-Cities Blackhawks.
March 21, 1953: The Boston Celtics and Syracuse Nationals couldn’t decide a playoff game without going to a fourth overtime as the Celtics won the Eastern Conference semifinals 2-0. Bob Cousy set playoff records making 30 of 32 free throw attempts and finishing with 50 points.
July 27, 1953: Fighting ends with the Korean armistice agreement creating the Korean Demilitarized Zone to separate North and South Korea. No peace treaty has ever been signed with the countries technically still at war.
May, 17, 1954: The Supreme Court rules on Brown v. Board of Education, a combination of five lawsuits brought by the NAACP’s legal arm to challenge racial segregation in public schools. The high court decided unanimously that “separate but equal” education denied black children their constitutional right to equal protection under the law, effectively removing a cornerstone that propped up Jim Crow, or state-sanctioned segregation of the races.
Dec. 1, 1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, igniting a boycott that led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling all segregation was unlawful on Dec. 20, 1956.
Dec. 22, 1956: Future Hall of Famer Bill Russell, who will win 11 NBA titles, makes his debut with the Boston Celtics. He scores six points and grabs 16 rebounds in a 95-93 win over the St. Louis Hawks.
April 13, 1957: The Boston Celtics win the first of 17 NBA championships, beating the St. Louis Hawks 125-123 in double overtime of Game 7.
Sept. 21, 1957: President Dwight D. Eisenhower orders 1,200 of the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce desegregation and protect the Little Rock Nine at Central High School.
April 12, 1958: Bob Pettit ties the NBA scoring record with 50 points to help the St. Louis Hawks win the NBA championship 4-2 over the Boston Celtics. The Hawks needed every point to win Game 6 110-109.
Oct. 24, 1959: Wilt Chamberlain, the four-time MVP and 13-time All-Star makes his debut with the Philadelphia Warriors. He scores 43 points and grabs 28 rebounds in a 118-109 road win over the New York Knicks.
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